‘The Occidental Bride’ in Clarkesworld Magazine. Heilui, a Hong Kong anthropologist, buys an ex-mafia Finnish bride. Her new wife Kerttu must learn to adapt to civilian life in an unfamiliar land, an unfamiliar culture… and perhaps together the two of them will catch the terrorist behind the war that sank Europe. 6,700 words.

‘The Insurrectionist and the Empress Who Reigns Over Time’ in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Yin Sanhi is the woman who foments and leads revolutions, knowing always that she’s one step from her fall – and Empress Narasorn proves her equal. Epic fantasy in 6,000 words.

‘The Petals Abide’ in Clarkesworld Magazine. Petals fall from Twoseret’s mouth, prophetic. They predict her life, death, loss. But they may prove fallible after all when an assassin is sent to her as a gift. 6,200 words.

‘And the Burned Moths Remain’ on Long ago Jingfei sold the world of her birth, Tiansong, to the Hegemony. Kept as a political prisoner, she bides her eternal sentence in the company of her countless bodies. An envoy arrives with an offer: a bargain to undo history and redeem Jingfei’s name. 6,100 words.

‘Provenance’ in She Walks in Shadows (ed. Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, Innsmouth Free Press). On a space station, Pth’thya-l’yi slumbers. Eldritch noir. 3,500 words.

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Pandering to Panderers

You’ve all read it. If not, here it is.

My gut reaction was to treat this, more or less, as absolute gibberish. Not because it’s offensive, but because it’s so utterly apart from anything I know that it might very well describe an extraterrestrial experience. It’s a look into some… other world, anyway, the world of an academic from someplace in America, who worked… someplace in America, I’m guessing. It’s also an academic who’s a white woman and who—I infer—has a romantic and/or sexual interest in men, and who has had a child. Whatever ‘a romantic or sexual interest in men’ is. It’s all really quite incomprehensible, so much so I’m tempted to approach this with an anthropological if slightly put-off curiosity. The heterosexual occidental other, you know, with the weird name.

It turns out, just so, that I wasn’t alone. Well, I don’t think anyone described their response to it in quite the terms I used (slightly distasteful, bizarre, gibberish), but certainly it came up: my experience is nothing like this, I don’t relate to this at all, the bit about men has nothing to do with me as a queer woman, does she realize how much people of color pander to white women? I’d quote tweets, but I haven’t asked permission and anyway, no need to preserve in record what many people might’ve meant as one-off thoughts.

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The closing of Crossed Genres and supporting the publications you love

Crossed Genres (the zine, not the press) is shutting down. Partly because of stress and lack of time, but also due to a lack of funds.

The second factor is simply that the magazine has run out of funds to continue. In April 2014 we ran a successful Kickstarter to keep CG Magazine going, but once another year had passed, roughly 90 percent of those who’d pledged to the Kickstarter chose not to renew their memberships. New memberships have been no more than a trickle since. We just don’t have the time, resources, or energy to continuously run fundraisers every year, especially when we also have to fundraise any other projects. Running a fundraiser is an entire project in and of itself – it’s an exhausting and overwhelming process, and we have too few hands to accomplish everything even for the actual publishing projects we have. 

In respect of that, I’d like to encourage folks to support zines they love. I’m putting together an all-in-one-place bunch of links that would answer a range of funds, platforms, and so on, as well as (IMO) reasons to support that specific zine.

I personally buy gift subscriptions for people who want them, but gift subscriptions are not inexpensive – Patreon is a nice alternative, but one-off issue purchase or anthology purchases also help support the zine. With that in mind, onward!



Subscriptions: Weightless, Amazon, Google Play, Apple App Store

Other options: the Upgraded anthology, a 6-month subscription, the Genevieve Valentine novella Dream Houses, the e-omnibus of Cat Valente’s short novels Myths of Origin.

Clarkesworld is a fantastic magazine that’s published some of the most interesting science fiction, and they do great outreach in acquiring translations (currently, mostly Chinese science fiction). They are also a lot of people’s first publications, which can put your name on the radar in a big way. CW publishes veterans and newbies alike with equity, putting their names side by side with total impartiality. It’s also got a track record for being one of the most progressive in its contents: it publishes a lot – I do mean a lot – of people of color; there have been issues that are just back-to-black full of POC. Queer, trans and non-binary folks are well-represented too, and CW is easily one of the most international SFF zines (if not the most). The fiction it publishes is often experimental, literary, forward-looking and full of worlds beyond the North American. For a writer, they’re fantastic to work with, offering excellent pay rate, editorial support, and just all around being very encouraging.

Some CW stories I’ve really liked: ‘Android Whores Can’t Cry’‘Effigy Nights’, and ‘Seeking boarder for rm w/ attached bathroom, must be willing to live with ghosts ($500 / Berkeley)’. (Yes, they’re all by writers who are non-US/UK or of color or queer or all three. I also picked these three because they’re all so stylistically dissimilar, which I think helps make the case of how varied the CW style can be.)

Beneath Ceaseless Skies 

Subscriptions: Weightless, Amazon

Other options: Ceaseless West: Weird Western Stories, Ceaseless Steam: Steampunk Stories from Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Beneath Ceaseless Skies specializes in secondary-world fantasy with style. It’s where you can get epic fantasy in 6000-8000 words (no more than 32 pages in paperback!), written in styles that… well, imagine if Catherynne Valente wrote epic fantasy. Which she did actually, but anyway I don’t think it’s unfair to say that’s what BCS offers. At its best, short secondary-world fantasy can give you the most intense, harrowing moment of epic fantasy without bothering you with reams of maps, glossaries, and 800 pages of wiki entries. Currently, BCS is the only venue with a laser focus on that. They also publish POC regularly, as well as queer, trans and non-binary writers. I’ve recently enjoyed ‘A Careful Fire’ by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.



Subscriptions: Weightless, Amazon, Google Play, Apple App Store

Other options: Starve Better (a practical, fun and realistic nonfiction collection of essays on writing: craft, money, state of genre), For Exposure (a charming, frank nonfiction book on running a small press), The Apex Book of World SF Bundle (taster of international SFF), and a bunch of full-length novels by J. M. McDermott, Lavie Tidhar, Brian Keene and more.

I think of all the publishers/zines I’m recommending here, Apex has the biggest range of stuff to offer, from nonfiction essays to full-length novels. Apex Magazine itself leans toward dark fantasy, I believe, but it publishes a huge range of short fiction. They have done multiple initiatives to encourage international SFF, with special issues, anthology series, and just generally its selection of writers even in non-special issues. Commitment not to just showcasing writers from varied background, but also in material. They are, I believe, the first western SFF zine to have reprinted Kuzhali Manickavel (the compelling ’Six Things We Found During the Autopsy’). For originals, I quite liked Octavia Cade’s ‘Crow’.

Mythic Delirium 

Subscriptions: Weightless

Other options: Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, Bone Swans, and Unseaming (a Shirley Jackson-nominated collection of surreal, dark short stories by Mike Allen)

Mythic Delirium is the home of the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, a series of anthologies featuring strange, weird, beautiful stories (including ones written by Valente, among others). Stylistically elaborate, varied fiction that would be hard to place elsewhere because they’re strange. New weird mixed with picaresque style. Mythic Delirium, the zine, brings more of the same. I especially enjoyed, recently, Cassandra Khaw’s ‘Her Pound of Flesh’, a really neat intertwining of fairytale tropes westerners are familiar with and Chinese ones.

PUELLA MAGI MADOKA: When society fails a girl, she becomes a witch

Note: this is an old post from 2013 that I’m republishing. It predates the release of the third Madoka movie, The Rebellion Story, and doesn’t take that into account. I might revisit this at some point to incorporate the third movie, time permitting.

So there’ve been endless terabytes of pixels spilled over this show, about how it subverts the magical girl genre and whatnot, blah blah grimdark very popular with male nerds due to said grimdark/subversion, etc etc.

You know what, though? Those analysts are wrong. Puella Magi Madoka Magica stays absolutely true to the genre.

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Since leaving his homeland, the earthbound demigod Demane has been labeled a sorcerer. With his ancestors’ artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight.

The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive.

The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive.

This novella very pointedly makes the case, IMO, for the victory of prose. Because (for me at least) the premise doesn’t appeal much to me: it suggests sword and sorcery, a very bro kind of fellowship (the book has no women, except for Demane’s aunt in flashbacks), and just not what I especially like. But because the language is so flowing and organic, it kept me reading long enough to appreciate the characterization and so read all the way to the end. (Also, ‘Super Bass’ which takes place in the same setting is what convinced me to pick this up in the first place, again on strength of its prose.)

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Octavia Butler and the Heterosexual Romance Conundrum

Over at Interfictions, Kaguro Macharia examines Octavia E. Butler in relation to the romance genre. It’s a somewhat unlikely lens, but on closer look it’s also one that’s eminently sensible.

It also goes some way to unpack the aspects of Butler that I’ve found deeply creepy, and which I rarely see discussed critically or at all.

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Convenient Short Fiction Reading On Mobile Devices or Whatever

My way of reading short fiction isn’t necessarily everyone’s convention. It’s convenient as heck, however. I’m not trying to offer a way to not subscribe to zines; this should hopefully make people read short fiction more, for a start. (I find that even if I subscribe, doing this is still more convenient for me anyway.)

Aggregate your zines!

Sign up for aggregators like InoReader, Feedly, The Old Reader, NewsBlur, or Pulse. Add all your regularly read zines. This way all of it is in one place rather than you having to manually load up each zine one by one in separate browser tabs.

Sync to read offline!

Now sign up for an app like Pocket or InstaPaper. Both have mobile apps and browser extensions.

Download the relevant browser add-on of the service in question. This lets you do this.


Download the app on your phone, sign in, and everything you added through the browser extension will download to your mobile device for offline reading. Have fun!

The Occidental Other

I don’t like to be referred to as ‘the Other’. I dislike it intensely, with a real passion. I know the function this term serves – ‘writing the Other’ urges the privileged to take some care when writing those of color, those queer or non-binary or trans, those disabled or neurodiverse – but though it’s a convenient shorthand, it also centralizes the assumed default: white, cis, het, western.

It was with this in mind that I wrote ‘The Occidental Bride’.

At breakfast, everyone convenes to see the foreign bride.

She sits like a mannequin of frost and plaster, consuming porridge and condiments as solemnly as a funeral meal. The Lan children gawk at her openly; one of Heilui’s youngest nieces whispers—audibly—speculating whether Kerttu’s pallor might leave white smudges on the utensils and tea-bowls; whether it might rub off on the furniture like icing.

It’s not the only thing in mind when I wrote this, to be sure. I was also thinking of mail-order brides – an industry of human trafficking that we’re trained to think of as a transaction between the white western male and a woman from either Eastern Europe or Asia (often East Asia, to play into the ‘submissive china doll’ stereotype). The usual narrative of this frequently ignores the woman’s voice entirely, one way or another, especially when she isn’t fluent in English. Some stories she is silent entirely, leaving the stage to the men in her life and having them narrate her misery, the men’s negligence, the men’s pain.

I didn’t want to write a story that merely turns that around – an Asian woman ordering a white husband, say, because it’d still adhere to heteronormative standards. Instead I chose to do it with two women who have different expectations, different cultures, different upbringings: one dysfunctional and detached from a lifetime of being treated as intellectual property, the other brought up in a loving family and earnest in her feelings. It’s especially important to me that the bride, Kerttu, gets to have a voice and an interiority – that her motives can be discerned, even if they aren’t explicitly declared.

I worded the story’s description like that in a very intentional way: terrorist is a loaded word, a racialized one. It wasn’t arbitrary that I chose to make the terrorist in this story white, western European (Finnish, to be specific). In our world, someone like this man will not be profiled or checked at airports. In this story, he’s a top priority for the authorities to capture. He lives on the run. Those with features like his stand out as other, as foreign. As people of interest.

When Aaminah very kindly interviewed me, I told her:

“I want diverse to disappear,” she says of the genre. “I want us to simply be normative rather than a token (whether token queer or token woman of colour), more than flavour. So that’s what I do in my fiction: including people like myself – and like my friends. I always make sure to make us simply there, simply reality.”

This, in a nutshell, is what I want to do with my fiction. It will not erase the harm done by outsiders appropriating us for profit – it can’t even begin to minimize it. But it’s there, and I’m not the only one, and inasmuch as anything is being achieved the fact the stories I want to tell can be told will have to be enough.

For now.